John 19:41
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
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(41) Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden.—Comp. John 18:1. St. John’s account makes the choice of the sepulchre depend on its nearness to the place of crucifixion; the account in the earlier Gospels makes it depend on the fact that the sepulchre belonged to Joseph. The one account implies the other; and the burial, under the circumstances, required both that the sepulchre should be at hand, and that its owner should be willing that the body should be placed in it.

A new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.—An emphatic combination of the two statements made in Matthew 27:60 and Luke 23:53.



John 19:41

This is possibly no more than a topographical note introduced merely for the sake of accuracy. But it is quite in John’s manner to attach importance to these apparent trifles and to give no express statement that he is doing so. There are several other instances in the Gospel where similar details are given which appear to have had in his eyes a symbolical meaning-e.g. ‘And it was night.’ There may have been such a thought in his mind, for all men in high excitement love and seize symbols, and I can scarcely doubt that the reason which induced Joseph to make his grave in a garden was the reason which induced John to mention so particularly its situation, and that they both discerned in that garden round the sepulchre, the expression of what was to the one a dim desire, to the other ‘a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’-that they who are laid to rest in the grave shall come forth again in new and fairer life, as ‘the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to bud.’

To us at all events on Easter morning, with nature rising on every hand from her winter death, and ‘life re-orient out of dust,’ that new sepulchre in the garden may well serve for the starting-point of the familiar but ever-precious lessons of the day.

I. A symbol of death and decay as interwoven with all nature and every joy.

We think of Eden and the first coming of death.

The grave was fittingly in the garden, because nature too is subject to the law of decay and death. The flowers fade and men die. Meditative souls have ever gathered lessons of mortality there, and invested death with an alien softness by likening it to falling leaves and withered blooms. But the contrast is greater than the resemblance, and painless dropping of petals is not a parallel to the rending of soul and body.

The garden’s careless wealth of beauty and joy continues unconcerned whatever befalls us. ‘One generation cometh and another goeth, but the earth abideth for ever.’

The grave is in the garden because all our joys and works have sooner or later death associated with them.

Every relationship.

Every occupation.

Every joy.

The grave in the garden bids us bring the wholesome contemplation of death into all life.

It may be a harm and weakening to think of it, but should be a strength.

II. The dim hopes with which men have fought against death.

To lay the dead amid blooming nature and fair flowers has been and is natural to men. The symbolism is most natural, deep, and beautiful, expressing the possibility of life and even of advance in the life after apparent decay. There is something very pathetic in so eager a grasping after some stay for hope.

All these natural symbols are insufficient. They are not proofs, they are only pretty analogies. But they are all that men have on which to build their hopes as to a future life apart from Christ. That future was vague, a region for hopes and wishes or fears, not for certainty, a region for poetic fancies. The thoughts of it were very faintly operative. Men asked, Shall we live again? Conscience seemed to answer, Yes! The instinct of immortality in men’s souls grasped at these things as proofs of what it believed without them, but there was no clear light.

III. The clear light of certain hope which Christ’s resurrection brings.

The grave in the garden reversed Adam’s bringing of death into Eden.

Christ’s resurrection as a fact bears on the belief in a future state as nothing else can.

It changes hope into certainty. It shows by actual example that death has nothing to do with the soul; that life is independent of the body; that a man after death is the same as before it. The risen Lord was the same in His relations to His disciples, the same in His love, in His memory, and in all else.

It changes shadowy hopes of continuous life into a solid certainty of resurrection life. The former is vague and powerless. It is impossible to conceive of the future with vividness unless as a bodily life. And this is the strength of the Christian conception of the future life, that corporeity is the end and goal of the redeemed man.

It changes terror and awe into joy, and opens up a future in which He is.

We shall be with Him.

We shall be like Him.

Now we can go back to all these incomplete analogies and use them confidently. Our faith does not rest upon them but upon what has actually been done on this earth.

Christ is ‘the First fruits of them that slept.’ What will the harvest be!

As the single little seed is poor and small by the side of the gorgeous flower that comes from it; so will be the change. ‘God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him.’

How then to think of death for ourselves and for those who are gone? Thankfully and hopefully.

John 19:41-42. Now in the place where he was crucified — In the same tract of land; there was a garden — But the cross did not stand in the garden; and in the garden a sepulchre — Which happened very commodiously for his immediate interment. By the circumstance of the sepulchre’s being “nigh to the place where Jesus was crucified, and consequently nigh to Jerusalem, all the cavils are prevented, which might otherwise have been occasioned, in case the body had been removed farther off. Moreover, it is observed that the sepulchre was a new one, wherein never any man had been laid. This plainly proves that it could be no other than Jesus who arose; and cuts off all suspicion that he was raised by touching the bones of some prophet who had been buried there, as happened to the corpse which touched the bones of Elisha, 2 Kings 13:21. Further, the evangelists take notice that it was a sepulchre hewn out of a rock, to show that there was no passage by which the disciples could get into it, but the one at which the guards were placed, Matthew 27:60; and, consequently, that it was not in their power to steal away the body, while the guards remained there performing their duty.” — Macknight. There laid they Jesus, because of the Jews’ preparation — That is, they chose the rather to lay him in that sepulchre, which was nigh, because it was the day before the sabbath, which also was drawing to an end, so they had no time to carry him far. “The boldness of Joseph, and even of Nicodemus himself, deserves our notice on such an occasion. They are not ashamed of the infamy of the cross, but come with all holy reverence and affection to take down those sacred remains of Jesus; nor did they think the finest linen or the choicest spices too valuable on such an occasion. But who can describe their consternation and distress, when they saw him who they trusted should have delivered Israel, a cold and bloody corpse in their arms; and left him in the sepulchre of Joseph, whom they expected to have seen on the throne of David. We leave, for the present, his enemies in triumph, and his friends in tears, till his resurrection; which soon confounded the rage of the former, and revived the hopes of the latter; — hopes which must otherwise have been for ever entombed under that stone with which they now covered him. But happy and comfortable is the thought, that this his transient visit to the grave has (as it were) left a perfume in the bed of dust, and reconciled the believer to dwelling a while in the place where the Lord lay.” — Doddridge.

19:38-42 Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Christ in secret. Disciples should openly own themselves; yet some, who in lesser trials have been fearful, in greater have been courageous. When God has work to do, he can find out such as are proper to do it. The embalming was done by Nicodemus, a secret friend to Christ, though not his constant follower. That grace which at first is like a bruised reed, may afterward resemble a strong cedar. Hereby these two rich men showed the value they had for Christ's person and doctrine, and that it was not lessened by the reproach of the cross. We must do our duty as the present day and opportunity are, and leave it to God to fulfil his promises in his own way and his own time. The grave of Jesus was appointed with the wicked, as was the case of those who suffered as criminals; but he was with the rich in his death, as prophesied, Isa 53:9; these two circumstances it was very unlikely should ever be united in the same person. He was buried in a new sepulchre; therefore it could not be said that it was not he, but some other that rose. We also are here taught not to be particular as to the place of our burial. He was buried in the sepulchre next at hand. Here is the Sun of Righteousness set for a while, to rise again in greater glory, and then to set no more.See the notes at Matthew 27:57-61. 41, 42. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre—The choice of this tomb was, on their part, dictated by the double circumstance that it was so near at hand, and by its belonging to a friend of the Lord; and as there was need of haste, even they would be struck with the providence which thus supplied it. "There laid they Jesus therefore, because of the Jew's preparation day, for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." But there was one recommendation of it which probably would not strike them; but God had it in view. Not its being "hewn out of a rock" (Mr 15:46), accessible only at the entrance, which doubtless would impress them with its security and suitableness. But it was "a new sepulchre" (Joh 19:41), "wherein never man before was laid" (Lu 23:53): and Matthew (Mt 27:60) says that Joseph laid Him "in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock"—doubtless for his own use, though the Lord had higher use for it. Thus as He rode into Jerusalem on an ass "whereon never man before had sat" (Mr 11:2), so now He shall lie in a tomb wherein never man before had lain, that from these specimens it may be seen that in all things He was "SEPARATE FROM SINNERS" (Heb 7:26). As all their gardens were out of the city, so also their burial places, which usually were vaults, or caves within the earth.

Now in the place where he was crucified,.... Which takes in all that spot of ground that lay on that side of the city where he was crucified; or near to the place of his crucifixion, for it was not a garden in which he was crucified:

there was a garden; all gardens, except rose gardens, were without the city, as has been observed; see Gill on John 18:1. This, it seems, belonged to Joseph: rich men used to have their gardens without the city for their convenience and pleasure:

and in the garden a new sepulchre; they might not bury within the city. Some chose to make their sepulchres in their gardens, to put them in mind of their mortality, when they took their walks there; so R. Dustai, R. Janhal, and R. Nehurai, were buried, "in a garden", or orchard (f); and so were Manasseh and Amon, kings of Judah, 2 Kings 21:18. Here Joseph had one, hewn out in a rock, for himself and family, and was newly made. The Jews distinguish between an old, and a new sepulchre; they say (g),

, "a new sepulchre" may be measured and sold, and divided, but an old one might not be measured, nor sold, nor divided.''

Wherein was never man yet laid; this is not improperly, nor impertinently added, though the evangelist had before said, that it was a new sepulchre; for that it might be, and yet bodies have been lain in it; for according to the Jewish canons (h),

"there is as a new sepulchre, which is an old one; and there is an old one, which is as a new one; an old sepulchre, in which lie ten dead bodies, which are not in the power of the owners, , "lo, this is as a new sepulchre".''

Now Christ was laid in such an one, where no man had been laid, that it might appear certainly that it was he, and not another, that was risen from the dead.

(f) Jechus haabot, p. 43. Ed. Hottinger. (g) Massech. Sernacot, c. 24. fol. 16. 3.((h) Ib.

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was {e} never man yet laid.

(e) That no man might frivolously object to his resurrection, as though someone else that had been buried there had risen; Theophylact.

John 19:41. ἐνταφιάζειν, see Genesis 50:1-3. ἦν ἐν τῷ τόπῳ, “There was in the place,” i.e., in that neighbourhood, κῆπος, a garden, which, according to Matthew 27:60, must have belonged to Joseph. μνημεῖον καινόν, a tomb, rock-hewn according to Synoptists, which had hitherto been unused, and which was therefore fresh and clean.

41. there was a garden] Contrast John 18:1. S. John alone tells of the garden, which probably belonged to Joseph, for S. Matthew tells us that the sepulchre was his.

a new sepulcher] S. Matthew also states that it was new, and S. Luke that no one had ever yet been laid in it. S. John states this fact in both ways with great emphasis. Not even in its contact with the grave did ‘His flesh see corruption.’

S. John omits what all the others note, that the sepulchre was hewn in the rock.

John 19:41. Ἐν τῷ τόπῳ, in the place) The cross itself was not in the garden.

Verse 41. - Now there was in the place where he was crucified, close at hand to the very cross, a garden, and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein as yet no man was laid (on site, see ver. 17, notes). John alone tells us of the "garden;" and he clearly saw the significance of the resemblance to the "garden" where Christ agonized unto death, and was betrayed with a kiss, and also to the garden where the first Adam fell from the high estate of posse non peccare. We are not told, however, by him that this sepulcher was Joseph's own (Matthew gives this explanation), nor that it was cut out of a rock, nor the nature or quality of it. Matthew, Luke, and John remark that it was καίνον, not simply νέον, recently made, but new in the sense of being as yet unused, thus preventing the possibility of any confusion, or any subordinate miracle, such as happened at the grave of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21), and so our Lord's sacred body came into no contact with corruption. Thus from the hour of death, in which the love of God in Christ is seen at its most dazzling moral luster, and the glorification of Christ in his Passion reaches its climax, death itself beaus to put on new unexpected forms and charms:

(1) the symbolic effusion of water and blood;

(2) the costly unguent spices and honorable burial lavished on One who had been put under ban, and had died the doom of the slave;

(3) the garden and the watchers. John 19:41A garden

Mentioned by John only.

New (καινὸν)

See on Matthew 26:29. John omits the detail of the tomb being hewn in the rock, which is common to all the Synoptists.

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